WHEN lockdown was first announced the volunteers at Oldham Street Angels had to close the charity’s doors.
But that has not stopped the determined members from coming up with an alternative plan.
With social distance measures and some careful guidelines in place, the charity was able to feed and clothe the borough’s homeless by opening back up and offering items to take away.
On a weekly basis vulnerable members of the community can turn up at the Hunters Lane site.
Donna is the charity co-ordinator and said there was no way that the charity could turn its back on those in need.
Donna said: “It has been really tough, when we first had to close it was distressing.
"We didn’t have a clue what to do but then we turned it around and opened up as a take away service.
“It has been really well received.”
According to Donna, sleeping bags have been a popular request.
She said: “It’s heartbreaking, we have people come, we give them pillows and sleeping bags and whatever they need on the day.”
Oldham Street Angels were originally volunteers that were formed to help to ensure those enjoying a Saturday night out have a fun but safe time.
Volunteers saw the need of support the homeless, vulnerable and those in need.
The base in Hunters Lane is a place for the town’s vulnerable to go, they can get a meal and the chance to use the washing machines, as well as accessing the support from other partners including Greater Manchester Police, Oldham Council and Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group.
Though they can get support and the help they need, Donna said homelessness is a complex issue.
She said: “It’s not as easy as getting somebody off the streets and into a house, they have to want it and they have to work with us.
“We can’t help those who can’t help themselves.”
More members are needed to ensure that Street Angels continues to run.
Donna added: “We are in need of more volunteers. If anyone can help then please get in touch.”
Failsworth councillor Peter Davis is already a volunteer at the organisation.
He said: “The long term aim is to get the support back here when we get out of lockdown.
“People can usually come and get the support and the help that they need.
“It has been hard because of lockdown as we have basically turned into a food bank and can’t have a sit down with the people that need it most.”
Councillor Davis also said that he cannot believe the kindness of those in Oldham’s community.
He said: “We have a large support network and couldn’t do it without them.”
Abbie Bright is a special constable for Greater Manchester Police and is also the youngest volunteer with Oldham Street Angels.
Abbie said: “It’s good to volunteer and it really does open up your eyes.
“The ladies come for clothes and it’s nice to see them leave with something that will keep them warm.”
On a weekly basis members from Oldham Boxing Club bring hot meals and chefs from the Roebook Inn also donate to feed the guests, which is approximately 50 or 60 in a week.
Street Angels also works in partnership with the Sanctuary Trust.
Sanctuary Trust is a registered charity working with homelessness and homeless related poverty and emergency homeless issues.
It was set up by Sheila Halsall after seeing the level of homelessness and substance misuse.
During lockdown workers from the trust wait outside Oldham Angels to talk to those who are on the streets or vulnerable.
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